The Machete Order is not a screwy light saber fighting style in the Star Wars universe. It’s a viewing order for five of the Star Wars movies, particularly geared towards people who have never seen the series before. It is a pretty good idea, and I’m going to give it a try.
The Machete Order attempts to preserve some of the twists and turns of the original trilogy, while still providing some of the backstory and character development from the second trilogy. It also removes one of the most common complaints about the second set of Star Wars movies: Jar Jar Binks.
“I am your FAH-THER.”
I remember hearing that phrase as clearly as any memory. I just about pissed myself. There I was, in my striped polo shirt (fully buttoned), short khaki shorts, and tube socks pulled up way too high. I clutched the arms of the movie theater chair and stared open-mouthed at my father. He was looking right back at me. He looked like someone stole his car.
In the years that followed the Empire Strikes Back, I spent countless hours poring over issues of the Star Wars newsletter Bantha Tracks. I was searching for any kernel of information that would help settle the biggest argument ever: was Darth Vader really Luke Skywalker’s father?
I’m the kid second from the right. Notice the Jedi shorts.
Fast forward a generation. My cousins and friends have kids of their own now. They’re the dads sitting next to their kids watching Star Wars. By the time they get to Empire Strikes Back, the kids have seen Episodes 1 – 3. “LUKE. I AM YOUR FAH-THER.”
“No shit,” the kids say.
See, if you watch the Star Wars series in “Episode Order,” then most of the biggest moments in the original trilogy are spoiled. The relationship between Luke and Vader, the presence of Yoda, who Vader really is, etc. It’s not enough that the second trilogy was stilted and bad, it has to sidle up to the original and ruin it, too.
So, if you’re one to show newcomers any of the prequels at all, then the answer to this problem is the Machete Order. This order starts with the original trilogy and then interjects Episodes 2 and 3 as an extended flashback. The order is thus:
Episode 4, Episode 5, Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 6.
Please go read Machete’s full exposition on the ordering, it’s quite good.
A side benefit to the Machete Order is that Episode 1 is skipped entirely. Jar Jar Binks can suck it.
Watching the movies in this order preserves some of the mystery of the original cinematic release order, and helps to explain Vader a bit more within the context of Episodes 4, 5, and 6. It also provides a better backdrop for Luke’s dangerous flirtations with the Dark Side during Return of the Jedi. It’s apparent that the Dark Side is seductive and powerful, and one Skywalker has already fallen prey to its draw. There’s actually more tension in the Emperor’s throne room.
Give the Machete Order a try, and see if you can relive some of that magic you felt as a kid.